Light Air Frustrates Racers at St. Pete NOOD

SPNood1

Stuart Streuli

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- It wasn't the start sailors and regatta organizers were hoping for, but the 2004 Sailing World NOOD Regatta season is officially underway. Half of the 192 boats entered in the Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD presented by Mount Gay Run got in one light-air race today, the rest attempted a race, but were forced to wait until tomorrow for their opening score after the wind died.

With a thick fog covering Tampa Bay this morning, the fleet was kept ashore until 12:30 p.m., by which time the fog had burned off and a light southeasterly was blowing. Racing started an hour later on the North Course, which featured most of the faster classes entered in the regatta, in a 5- to 8-knot breeze coming from 120 degrees.
The breeze built slightly while the first few classes worked upwind, but then it started to fade. Chasing the puffs was the best way to ensure a good result. "One person was always looking out of the boat," said Jose Suarezhoyos, owner of the J/109 Mariah, "and that applies to the spinnaker legs as well. We were very focused on where the wind was and we went for it. We didn't sail the shortest distance, but we went where the wind was and it paid off."

SuarezHoyos, of Tampa, was sailing in the Level 72 class. Off the line, he said, it was important to get to the left side of the course where the wind was stronger and the current more favorable. Four of the five boats in the class followed a similar logic on the first leg, with the J/35 Time Bandit finding some nice pressure and a little bit of the left shift near the top of the leg and vaulting into first place. Mariah rounded in third but was able to take advantage of its asymmetrical spinnaker to sail hotter angles downwind and chase the puffs. Mariah passed the symmetrically-rigged Rocket on that second leg and then set about grinding down George Haynie's Time Bandit as the boats worked toward the finish in an dying breeze. "We were trailing them by about 30 yards," he said of the third and final leg. "We stayed a little further left and almost caught them. We did well because although we had three people who'd never been on the boat, there was no controversy. It was very harmonious."

The Level 72 class was one of four that actually finished the three-leg course. The other five on the North Circle had their races finish at the leeward mark. Even in the spotty breeze, the action was tight in the 35-boat Melges 24 class. Doug Fisher of Sarasota won the race with Ryan Hamm's When Pigs Fly in second and Tim Hawkin's Go Dogs, Go! in third. The closest finish in the class and probably of the day was between Tom Carter's Trust Me and the all-female M&M Sailing Team led by Mary Anne Ward. The boats found themselves on opposite tacks sprinting for the finish in minimal breeze. M&M Sailing Team initially looked like it would cross to take the 11th, but Trust Me, on starboard, was able to force them to jibe and, with their chutes collapsed, the two boats inched toward the line. Trust Me took advantage of its leeward position and crossed the line first.

Other winners today included Robert Glaser's J/105 Orangutan, Neil Rattan's Henderson 30 Love Letter, Jahn Tihansky's J World Racing Team Blue in the J/80 Blind Faith, Charles Nethersole's Corsair 28R Rocketeer II, Linda and Jon Edward's J/29 Rhumb Punch, Cliff Vaughan's Hobie 33 Holy Toledo, and Valeri Safiullin's Breeze, which took line honors in the Level 96 class.

Racing will continue through the weekend. Preliminary forecasts have the wind doing a literally, thought not figurative, 180-degree turn, and blowing upwards of 20 knots from the south.

2004 Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta Presented by Mount Gay Rum

Results after Day 1:

Henderson Class

  1. Neil Rattan, Westport, CT
  2. Jeffrey Gale, Bahamas
  3. Mike Carroll, Tampa, FL

Melges 24 Class

  1. Doug Fisher, Sarasota, FL
  2. Ryan Hamm, Charleston, SC
  3. Tim Hawkins, Scotts Valley, CA

J 105 Class

  1. Robert Glaser, Tampa, FL
  2. Jim Liston, Venice, FL
  3. Ed Chappell, Lexington, KY

Level 72 Class

  1. George Haynie, Tampa, FL
  2. Jose SuarezHoyos, Tampa, FL
  3. Jamie Myers, Tampa, FL

J29 Class

  1. Linda & John Edwards, California, MD
  2. John & Tony Esposito, Mohegan Lake, NY
  3. Case Whittemore, Richmond, VA

Level 96 Class

  1. Valeri Safiullin, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  2. Chris Papandreas, Indian Rocks Beach, FL
  3. Chip Crawford, Lexington, KY

J80 Class

  1. Jahn Tihanskey, Annapolis, MD
  2. John Storck, Jr., Huntington, NY
  3. TJ Aruffro

Hobie 33 Class

  1. Clif Vaughan, Whitehouse, OH
  2. Steven Attard, Temperance, MI
  3. J. Scott Maust, Pigeon, MI

Corsair28r Class

  1. Charles Nethersole, Miami Beach, FL
  2. Tom Reese, Niagra Falls, NY
  3. Marc Waters, Kemah, TX